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After 25 years, Heath Springs double murder remains unsolved

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By Jesef Williams

Every day, there are countless people and objects that make Terry Thompson remember his slain sister.Some memories are pleasant, others are bad. But what is a constant is the emptiness that results from not knowing what happened to her. It’s a pain that never goes away.It's been 25 years since Lisa Ann Thompson was found dead inside a car near U.S. 521 in Heath Springs. She had been out riding the night of May 14, 1983, with Russell Anthony.Thompson, who was riding in the passenger seat, had been shot with a .38-caliber handgun. The car was doused with gasoline and then set on fire. Anthony, the driver, was later found dead in the car trunk.Thompson and Anthony were only 19.Sheriff’s deputies have said the two were killed between 1 and 2 a.m. May 15, 1983.While there have been thorough investigations, no arrests were ever made and no suspects have even been identified – even after 25 years.“They call them cold cases, but they’re never cold for the families,” said Terry Thompson, who was 15 when his sister and Anthony were murdered. “They're still hot topics.”Mourning mothersLisa Thompson’s mother, Canova Thompson, says it doesn’t seem like it’s been 25 years since her daughter’s death. Sometimes she gets a feeling in her body that takes her back to the night Lisa left the house to ride with Anthony.Every year around the middle of May, Canova Thompson experiences various aches about her body. Right now, she is dealing with light-headedness and swollen feet. Doctors told her these effects may be a direct result of the stress from the murder.“This is not a good time of the year,” she said.Even though May is the worst time for mourning, a day doesn’t go by when Canova Thompson doesn’t think of Lisa and wonders what she would have become today.“You learn to live with it but you don’t forget it,” she said. “If you never lost a child, you don’t know what it's like.”Margie Anthony says she tries not to dwell too much on her son’s death. She says that she has put her faith in God.“I try not to think about it, I just know he’s in a better place,” she said. “I’m hoping some day, it (the details) will come out.”A new perspectiveTerry Thompson has also placed everything in God’s hands in dealing with this tragedy.He used to get angry whenever he thought about the murders, but says God has given him peace. Terry Thompson said he now prays that the person or people responsible for the two deaths have given their life to Jesus Christ and asked for forgiveness.“If that person is still living, it’s something that’s eating them alive,” Terry Thompson said. “It’s something they might take to their grave.”Keeping memories aliveLike his mother, Terry Thompson says he thinks about his sister each day.When he hears about any murder on the news, he is immediately redirected to Lisa and Russell’s deaths. And there have been several times that he’s walked past women who look just like his sister. The resemblances are so close that it’s startling, he said.There are also several younger family members who keep his sister’s memory alive; Terry and two of his brothers have named their daughters in Lisa’s honor.Bradford Thompson, the oldest brother, has two daughters – Lisa and Ann. Rodney Thompson’s daughter is named Jalisa and Terry’s daughter is named L.A.“When you call their names, you can’t help but think about it,” Terry Thompson said.Case remains openLancaster County Sheriff Johnny Cauthen said the case is still open, although it’s been many years since new developments have come through. Sheriff’s office investigators actually reviewed the murder case this year.Cauthen, who was working as a deputy at the time of the murder, said there are “persons of interest.” However, deputies don’t have enough information right now to pursue charges.“It’s so frustrating to be so close, but yet so far,” Cauthen said.He wouldn't go into details about the findings, but said that the responsible parties are most likely from Lancaster County.“They were not strangers to the victims,” Cauthen said.Cauthen knew Lisa Thompson and Russell Anthony, and says that personal connection to them makes the situation even worse for him. Every time Cauthen drives through Heath Springs, he thinks about the murder.“I wish we could solve it for the family and bring justice,” Cauthen said. “I hate to see people walk around scot-free and nothing happens. I want to see this closed.”

– Contact reporterJesef Williams at 283-1152